Damien F. Mackey
“Harness the horses to the chariot, you residents of Lachish. This was the beginning of sin for Daughter Zion, because Israel’s acts of rebellion can be traced to you”.
Azuri – Hezekiah’s Reform
During the Reign of King Ahaz
Regarding Azuri, I wrote as follows in my university thesis (Chapter One, p. 160):
A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah of Judah
and its Background
Azuri was king Ahaz’s apparently accommodating high-priest [Uriah] who, when ordered by his pro-Assyrian king, built an altar (based on either a Syrian or Assyrian model) in Jerusalem (2 Kings 16:10-11). [This was at the very time when kings Rezin of Aram (Syria) and Pekah of Israel had combined to mount a war against Jerusalem, with the intention, according to Isaiah (7:6), of placing “the son of Tabeel” … upon the throne of Jerusalem. So Ahaz had called upon Tiglath-pileser III for assistance]. Perhaps Azuri was rewarded for this act of ‘loyalty’ by Tiglath-pileser III with the prestigious governorship of Lachish.
However, I had failed then to propose a possible connection of this priest, Uriah (Azuri), with a high priest and official of the early reign of Ahaz’s son, Hezekiah, during the latter’s great work of reform. I can try to rectify that in the next section.
During the Reign of King Hezekiah
We are very early in the almost three-decade long reign of King Hezekiah of Judah.
From the description given in 2 Chronicles 29, it is apparent that the young king did not waste any time (“first month … first year”) in undertaking his great reform (vv. 1-5):
Hezekiah was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother’s name was Abijah daughter of Zechariah. He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father David had done.
In the first month of the first year of his reign, he opened the doors of the temple of the Lord and repaired them. He brought in the priests and the Levites, assembled them in the square on the east side and said: “Listen to me, Levites! Consecrate yourselves now and consecrate the temple of the Lord, the God of your ancestors. Remove all defilement from the sanctuary.
What we notice from reading about this reform is that the eager Levites were highly regarded, apparently more so than the priests. V. 34 actually spells this out: “The priests, however, were too few to skin all the burnt offerings; so their relatives the Levites helped them until the task was finished and until other priests had been consecrated, for the Levites had been more conscientious in consecrating themselves than the priests had been”.
One of these priests, in fact the high priest at the time, was Azariah.
Now, I cannot help thinking that this Azariah may have been the same person as the Uriah (Azuri) at the time of Ahaz, who had built an Assyrian-model altar for the pro-Assyrian Ahaz. In 31:19 we are briefly introduced to him: “… Azariah the chief priest, from the family of Zadok”. Did the high-priest Azariah’s mind flash back to those apostatising activities of his in the service of King Ahaz when now the priests and Levites were reporting to King Hezekiah that the Temple and its altar had been fully purified? (29:18-19):
Then they went in to King Hezekiah and reported: ‘We have purified the entire temple of the Lord, the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the table for setting out the consecrated bread, with all its articles. We have prepared and consecrated all the articles that King Ahaz removed in his unfaithfulness while he was king. They are now in front of the Lord’s altar’.
Akhi-miti’s short tenure
“Azuri king of Ashdod, not to bring tribute his heart was set, and to the kings in his neighbourhood proposals of rebellion against Assyria he sent. Because of the evil he did, over the men of his land I changed his lordship. Akhimiti his own brother, to sovereignty over them I appointed”.
In the course of this series I shall be presuming that Sargon II was the same Assyrian ruler as Sennacherib:
Assyrian King Sargon II, Otherwise Known As Sennacherib
A failure to recognise this fact will lead to what I described in my university thesis:
A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah of Judah
and its Background
as “Worrying Duplications and Anomalies”. These affect not only Sargon II/Sennacherib himself, but, naturally, his contemporaries, such as our proposed high-priests, Azuri and Akhi-miti (var. Mitinti). As I pointed out on pp. 142, 144:
- Worrying Duplications and Anomalies.
- The ubiquitous king of Babylon, Merodach-baladan II, was:
– already a political factor in the days of Tiglath-pileser III (c. 744-727 BC).
– He then, supposedly two reigns later, becomes a complete thorn in Sargon II’s side for the latter’s first, approximately, 12 years of reign (c. 721-710).
– He then resurfaces at the time of Sennacherib, who defeats him in his first
campaign and then, finally, in his fourth campaign (c. 704-700).
Kings can reign over long periods of time, but this Merodach-baladan seems perhaps to have overstayed his welcome.
Mitinti of ‘Ashdod’ ranges through the same approximate, long neo-Assyrian period.
- Sennacherib is thought, already by 713 BC, to have been the recipient, as crown prince, of the heavy tribute from Azuri of ‘Ashdod’, who was in fact Sargon’s foe.336
In the course of this series I shall also be presuming that “Ashdod” as referred to by Sargon II, and by Isaiah (20:1), was the great Judaean city of Lachish:
Sargon II’s “Ashdod” – the Strong Fort of Lachish
Continuing on with my thesis, I also wrote about the problematical Ashdod:
- Disturbing, too, is the following unprecedented situation at ‘Ashdod’ as viewed by
Tadmor from the conventional angle:337
Ashdod was then organized [by Sargon] as an Assyrian province. Sennacherib
however restored it to its former state as a tributary kingdom. …. Mitinti, the king
of Ashdod, is mentioned in the Annals of Sennacherib …. There is no doubt, therefore, that at the time of the campaign of Judah (701) Ashdod had an autonomous king and not an Assyrian governor. The reorganization of Ashdod – from a province back to a vassaldom – has no precedent. …. in the time of Esarhaddon Ashdod was again turned into a province.
All this topsy turvy supposedly in the space of a few decades!
Historians, such as D. Redford, have chosen to date Akhi-miti’s appointment to the fort of Ashdod by the Assyrians to 713 BC. Thus I wrote on p. 27:
Redford has actually called this campaign, that he dates to 712 BC, “an anchor date”.
Here is his account (my dating of these events will be slightly different from his):83
Thanks to a variety of studies over the last 25 years, the year 712 B.C. has emerged as an anchor date in the history of the Late Period in Egypt. The general course of events leading up to and culminating in the Assyrian campaign against Ashdod in that year is now fairly sure, and may be sketched as follows. Sometime early in 713 B.C. the Assyrians deposed Aziri [Azuri], king of Ashdod on suspicion of lese-majeste, and appointed one Ahimetti [Akhi-miti] to replace him.
Then I proceeded to enlarge on all of this, and on Ashdod, on pp. 154-158:
Now, when Sargon refers to ‘Ashdod, we need to be clear as to which exact location he had in mind, for he also refers in the same account to an ‘Ashdod-by-the-Sea’. Thus we read: “Ashdod, Gimtu [Gath?], Ashdudimmu [Ashdod-by-the-Sea], I besieged and captured”. It is the maritime Ashdod357 that I am going to propose – contrary to the usual view – is the well known Ashdod of the Philistine plain; whilst the ‘Ashdod’ mentioned first here by Sargon I shall identify as the mighty inland stronghold of Lachish (approx. 50 km south west of Jerusalem), the most important Judaean fort after Jerusalem itself. These three cities of Lachish, Gath and Ashdod, taken together, formed something of a line of formidable forts in Judaea358. Assyria had to take them as they were a dangerous base for hostile Egypt.
That Sargon would have had to confront Lachish would seem to be inevitable, militarily, due to the fact that he did indeed capture its neighbouring fort of Azekah.359 (For more on this, see pp. 158-159 below). Did not Sargon II boast anyway of his having been the “subduer of the land of Iaudu (Judah), which lies far away …”?360
Now, the fortress of Lachish was the high point of Sennacherib’s western campaign. To no Judaean city apart from Jerusalem itself would the description ‘Ashdod’ … that is, ‘a very strong place’, apply more aptly than to Lachish. The name ‘Ashdod’, from the root shádad …, ‘to be strong’, signifies ‘a stronghold’. “What a surprise, then”, writes Russell,361 regarding the surrender of Lachish, “to turn to the annalistic account of that same campaign – inscribed on the bulls at the throne-room entrance – and discover that Lachish is not mentioned at all”.
Was it that Sargon II – hence, that Sennacherib – had instead referred to Lachish by the descriptive title of ‘Ashdod’, whose capture Sargon covers in detail?
Let us now follow [Charles] Boutflower in his reconstruction of this somewhat complex campaign, referring to the fragment Sm. 2022 of Sargon’s Annals, which he calls “one particularly precious morsel”:362
The longer face [of this fragment] … has a dividing line drawn across it near the bottom. Immediately below this line, and somewhat to the left, there can be seen with the help of a magnifying-glass a group of nine cuneiform indentations
arranged in three parallel horizontal rows. Even the uninitiated will easily understand that we have here a representation of the number “9”. It is this figure, then, which gives to the fragment its special interest, for it tells us, as I am about to show, “the year that the Tartan came unto Ashdod”.
Boutflower now moves on to the focal point of Assyria’s concerns: mighty ‘Ashdod’:363
The second difficulty in Sm. 2022 is connected with the mention of Ashdod in the part below the dividing line. According to the reckoning of time adopted on this fragment something must have happened at Ashdod at the beginning of Sargon’s ninth year, i.e. at the beginning of the tenth year, the year 712 BC, according to the better-known reckoning of the Annals. Now, when we turn to the Annals and examine the record of this tenth year, we find no mention whatever of Ashdod. Not till we come to the second and closing portion of the record for the eleventh year do we meet with the account of the famous campaign against that city.
What, then, is the solution to this second difficulty Boutflower asks? And he answers this as follows:364
Simply this: that the mention of Ashdod on the fragment Sm. 2022 does not refer to the siege of that town, which, as just stated, forms the second and closing event in the record of the following year, but in all probability does refer to the first of those political events which led up to the siege, viz. the coming of the Tartan to Ashdod. To make this plain, I will now give the different accounts of the Ashdod imbroglio found in the inscriptions of Sargon, beginning with the one in the Annals (lines 215-228) already referred to, which runs thus:
“Azuri king of Ashdod, not to bring tribute his heart was set, and to the kings in his neighbourhood proposals of rebellion against Assyria he sent. Because of the evil he did, over the men of his land I changed his lordship. Akhimiti his own brother, to sovereignty over them I appointed. The Khatte [Hittites], plotting rebellion, hated his lordship; and Yatna, who had no title to the throne, who, like themselves, the reverence due to my lordship did not acknowledge, they set up over them. In the wrath of my heart, riding in my war-chariot, with my cavalry, who do not retreat from the place whither I turn my hands, to Ashdod, his royal city, I marched in haste. Ashdod, Gimtu [Gath?], Ashdudimmu … I besieged and captured. …”.
Typical Assyrian war records! Boutflower shows how they connect right through to
Sargon’s Year 11, which both he and Tadmor365 date to 711 BC:366
The above extract forms … the second and closing portion of the record given in the Annals under Sargon’s 11th year, 711 BC., the earlier portion of the record for that year being occupied with the account of the expedition against Mutallu of Gurgum. In the Grand Inscription of Khorsabad we meet with a very similar account, containing a few fresh particulars. The usurper Yatna, i.e. “the Cypriot”, is there styled Yamani, “the Ionian”, thus showing that he was a Greek. We are also told that he fled away to Melukhkha on the border of Egypt, but was thrown into chains by the Ethiopian king and despatched to Assyria.
…. In order to effect the deposition of the rebellious Azuri, and set his brother Akhimiti on the throne, Sargon sent forth an armed force to Ashdod. It is in all probablity the despatch of such a force, and the successful achievement of the end in view, which were recorded in the fragment Sm. 2022 below the dividing line. As Isa xx.1 informs us – and the statement, as we shall presently see, can be verified from contemporary sources – this first expedition was led by the Tartan. Possibly this may be the reason why it was not thought worthy to be recorded in the Annals under Sargon’s tenth year, 712 BC. But when we come to the eleventh year, 711 BC, and the annalist very properly and suitably records the whole series of events leading up to the siege, two things at once strike us: first, that all these events could not possibly have happened in the single year 711 BC; and secondly, as stated above, that a force must have previously been despatched at the beginning of the troubles to accomplish the deposition of Azuri and the placing of Akhimiti on the throne. On the retirement of this force sedition must again have broken out in Ashdod, for it appears that the anti-Assyrian party were able, after a longer or shorter interval, once more to get the upper hand, to expel Akhimiti, and to set up in his stead a Greek adventurer, Yatna-Yamani. The town was then strongly fortified, and surrounded by a moat.
We have by no means seen the end of the important Akhi-miti, or Mitinti, who will re-emerge again shortly, during King Sennacherib’s major campaign to Judah, as King Hezekiah’s chief official, Eliakim son of Hilkiah (Isaiah 36:3).
And then he will further emerge as the high priest, Joakim (Joiakim) of the Book of Judith, during Sennacherib’s ill-fated campaign occurring about a decade later.
Yatna – Ashdod revolts
“Yatna-Yamani, given his newly found prestige, began to lord it over the kingdom of Judah as Sobna (var. Shebna), the apparent imposter, or usurper, of whom the Lord would complain to Isaiah (22:15-16): ‘Come, go to this steward, to Shebna, who is master of the household, and say to him: ‘What right do you have here? Who are your relatives here, that you have cut out a tomb here for yourself, cutting a tomb on the height, and carving a habitation for yourself in the rock?’.’”
Continuing on with quotations from my university thesis, I had picked up some interesting observations from Tadmor, Bright, and Russell relevant to my proposed fusion of Sargon II with Sennacherib (thesis, pp. 140-142):
Tadmor324 highlights a case in which he determines, on the basis of deity references, that a certain document must have belonged to Sargon II rather than to Sennacherib, despite the fact that the Assyrian king in question was undertaking an incursion into Judaean territory as far as Azekah, “not far from Lachish”;325 Lachish being of course famous for Sennacherib’s siege and conquest of it in 701 BC (conventional dating). Here is how Tadmor has introduced this interesting document (that I shall be re-visiting again soon when discussing Sargon II’s campaigns), dating it to Sargon’s 712 BC campaign to Philistian Ashdod, as he thinks; but I am later going to identify this ‘Ashdod’ with Judaean Lachish:326
In connection with Sargon’s campaign to Philistia, a small fragment 81-3-23, 131 in the British Museum, published only in transcription by Winckler some fifty years ago … and not utilized since in any historical presentation, must now be considered.
Leaving aside for the moment Tadmor’s description of the geography of this document, which I shall be discussing further on, I move on to Tadmor’s consideration of its tone and genre, relevant – as he thinks – to differentiation between Sargon II and Sennacherib. Note firstly that Tadmor seeks to distinguish Sargon from Sennacherib based on the style of this document which he himself concedes at the start to be a fairly unique style of document – and probably not therefore typical even of Sargon:327
The inscription is written in a poetic style, different from the style of the Annals and of the Display Inscriptions, with some expressions that do not have any parallels elsewhere ….
A similar form of narration is attested in the report to the god Aššur of Sargon’s
eighth campaign … and in the report of Esarhaddon’s campaign in Shupria ….-
the best examples of this style. Thus, our fragment may well belong to the type of “Letters to Gods.”
Tadmor next proceeds to discuss Sargon’s use of the deity name:
The rendering of Aššur’s name by An-šár helps to determine the authorship of the inscription. This way of writing the name Aššur started with Sargon …. and was extensively used in the historical inscriptions of Esarhaddon and Assurbanipal. Apparently the Babylonian or the pro-Babylonian scribes in the court of Sargon … intended to transform Aššur into a neutral cosmic deity, Anšar (known from the divine genealogy of Enûma Eliš). Sennacherib, being the most nationalistic of the Assyrian kings, in principle accepted this device, but in fact supplanted Marduk by Anšar.
The best example of this substitution is the complete replacement of Marduk by Anšar in the Assyrian recension of Enûma Eliš which was edited during the reign of Sennacherib. In the historical inscriptions of this king from Nineveh only the traditional spelling of Aššur was used; Anšar was restricted to the building
inscriptions from Assur and to the literary genre.
This substitution is again reflected in K 1356, the descriptions of a door relief cast by Sennacherib, …. in which Anšar – and neither Marduk nor Aššur – leads the gods to the battle against Tiamat. In this document as well as in other building inscriptions of Sennacherib from Assur composed after the destruction of Babylon (689) and relating to the building of bît-akîtu in Assur (replacing the Babylonian original), … Sennacherib is referred to as êpiš salam Anšar = “the maker of the statue of Anšar.”
Thus Tadmor concludes, on rather flimsy grounds as I see it – or have I missed the point? – that the fragment could not pertain to the reign of Sennacherib:
In view of this exceptional usage we eliminate the possibility that our fragment refers to the campaign of Sennacherib against Judah in 710. This conclusion can also be supported by the fact that not one of the standard accounts of Sennacherib’s campaign against Hezekiah nor any other of his inscriptions ever uses this epical style.
Nor Tadmor thinks, for the following reasons, can this document belong to either Esarhaddon or Ashurbanipal:328
The alternative that this fragment night be attributed to Esarhaddon or to Assurbanipal is ruled out on the grounds that in their time no real military activities were undertaken in Philistia and that the term Amurru as a collective
was no longer applied to the Syrian and Palestinian kingdoms. Therefore we must attribute this inscription to Sargon.
Later, Tadmor will distinguish between two contemporary styles of writing in Assyria:
the “Assur School” and the “Kalah School”.329 This may have significance with regard to scribal variations in tone and style.
Other factors seemingly in favour of the standard view that Sargon II and Sennacherib were two distinct kings may be, I suggest, put down to being ‘two sides of the same coin’. For example, one might ask the question, in regard to Russell’s statement: “… Nineveh, where there is little evidence of Sargon’s activities”:
– Why would so proud and mighty a king as Sargon II virtually neglect one of Assyria’s most pre-eminent cities, Nineveh?
– Conversely, why did Sennacherib seemingly avoid Sargon’s brand new city of Dur-Sharrukin?
– Again, why did Sennacherib record only campaigns, and not his regnal years?
Bright muses without much confidence upon a possible later discovery “of Sennacherib’s official annals for approximately the last decade of his reign (if such ever existed)”.330 ….
Further, as regards this ‘economy’ factor in inscriptions, we shall see in Section Two that, wherever Sargon II goes into detail about a particular campaign, Sennacherib tends to be brief; and vice versa.
One perhaps cannot say whether there was any marked personality difference ‘between’ Sargon II and Sennacherib (by way of trying to find any distinctions between the ‘two’), because, as Russell has concluded, after an exhaustive study of Sennacherib, “we actually know little about the man”.331
On pp. 158-159 I had then, in a section entitled “The Storming of Azekah, Lachish and Other Judaean Forts”, written still relevant to this:
Upon deeper probing, following Tadmor, we find that Sargon actually took the Judaean fort of Azekah (Azaqâ) as well.
This, coupled with Sargon II’s reference to himself as ‘subduer of Judah’, is the very link that was needed to connect Sargon II’s activities in Philistia with Sennacherib’s in Judah.
Cypriot, Greek, Palestinian? What are we to make of the rebellious Yatna-Yamani?
As I noted on p. 160 of my thesis, Tadmor had thought that the latter part of the name was Palestinian:
Now if Sargon’s ‘Ashdod’ really were Lachish as I am proposing here, and his war were therefore being brought right into king Hezekiah’s Judaean territory, then we might even hold out some hope of being able to identify, with Hezekian officials, the succession of rulers of ‘Ashdod’ whom Sargon names. I refer to Azuri, Yatna-Yamani and Akhimiti. The first and the last of these names are Hebrew. The middle ones, Yatna-Yamani, are generally thought to be Greek-related, as we saw above; but Tadmor supports the view of Winckler and others that Yamani at least “was of local Palestinian origin”; being likely the equivalent of either Imnâ or Imna .376
As the biblical Shebna
Continuing on with my thesis, I would now go on to suggest that this Yatna be connected with Shebna (pp. 160-161):
My reconstruction of an approximate flow of events regarding this succession of rulers of Lachish would be as follows:
- Azuri was king Ahaz’s apparently accommodating high-priest who, when ordered by his pro-Assyrian king, built an altar (based on either a Syrian or
Assyrian model) in Jerusalem (2 Kings 16:10-11). …. Ahaz had called upon Tiglath-pileser III for assistance]. Perhaps Azuri was rewarded for this act of ‘loyalty’ by Tiglath-pileser III with the prestigious governorship of Lachish.
But during the next reign, that of Hezekiah, Azuri typically adjusted to fit in with Judah’s now pro-Egyptian tendencies, and for this he was subsequently deposed by Sargon II along with other of Hezekiah’s officials. Assyria replaced him with his brother, Akhi-miti.
- This choice of Akhi-miti as governor, however, did not suit the Syro-Hittites, who were then in league with Egypt against the Assyrians. Hence they elevated to the governorship of Lachish one Yatna-Yamani, who, according to Sargon, “had no title to the throne”. [This I believe to have been a continuation of the wishes and intentions of the organizers of the Syro-Palestinian league against Assyria to place in high positions pro-Egyptian leaders]. Yatna-Yamani, given his newly found prestige, began to lord it over the kingdom of Judah as Sobna (var. Shebna), the apparent imposter, or usurper, of whom the Lord would complain to Isaiah (22:15-16):
‘Come, go to this steward, to Shebna, who is master of the household, and say to him: ‘What right do you have here? Who are your relatives here, that you have cut out a tomb here for yourself, cutting a tomb on the height, and carving a habitation for yourself in the rock?’.’
Sobna is rightly considered to have been “the leader in this pro-Egyptian movement”,377 hence anti-Assyrian, which fits this new scenario perfectly. Tadmor, taking the standard view that ‘Ashdod’ was a Philistine city, suggested here the following pattern of events:378
… we may tentatively reconstruct the events of 712 in the following sequence:
Yamani of Ashdod had initiated a new rebellion against Assyria and had made contact with the rulers of the few still autonomous principalities in Palestine in an effort to revive the Syria-Palestinian league of 720. He was assisted or backed by the king of Egypt, called Pir’u here. It is likely that Judah offered more than tacit assistance. Early in 712 Sargon’s army invaded Philistia, conquering the northern Gath (Gitajim), Gibeton, and ‘Eqron on his way. We have to assume that afterwards he assaulted ‘Azeqah and finally conquered it. We may even assume, though the inscription does not mention it, that Judah averted [sic] by some means the central Assyrian attack.
Now, proceeding on to p. 162:
- Under mounting pressure from Assyria, Yatna-Yamani abandoned Lachish
- and, according to Sargon, fled to Ethiopia. [See previous comments on the Tang-I Var inscription, in Chapter 1, p. 27 and p. 144 of this chapter; and see also Chapter 12, pp. 373-374, 380, in regard to the impossible chronology of this incident in a conventional context]. But here again the king of Assyria may be telescoping events; for firstly we find Yatna-Yamani, as Shebna, now playing second fiddle (as “the secretary” …) to the reinstated Akhi-miti/Eliakim (e.g. 2 Kings 18:18), as according to Isaiah 22:17-21:
‘The Lord is about to hurl you [Shebna] away violently, my fellow. He will seize firm hold on you, whirl you round and round, and throw you like a ball into a wide land; there you shall die, and there your splendid chariots shall lie, O you disgrace to your master’s house! I will thrust you from your office, and you will be pulled down from your post. On that day I will call my servant Eliakim son of Hilkiah, and will clothe him with your robe and bind your sash on him. I will commit your authority to his hand, and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah …’.
Historians, not knowing who Shebna really was, tend to doubt that he ever suffered the grim fate of death in exile that Isaiah had foretold for him. Olmstead, for instance, thinks that:379 “In part, Isaiah’s prediction was successful, for Shebna, though not entirely removed, was demoted …”. But, with Shebna now identified with Sargon’s Yatna-Yamani, we can tell exactly what did happen to him, and it is fully in accordance with Isaiah. Sargon tells us that he fled to Ethiopia, on the border of Egypt, but was thrown into chains by the Ethiopian king and despatched to Assyria. Thus, “like a ball” … , as Isaiah had said, this opportunist was tossed from one place to another; and finally to Assyria, never to be heard of again.
Eliakim, on the other hand, would live to fight other days.
And so we read about him again in Judith 4, as the high priest, Joakim (who may even have authored the book) vv. 1-8:
The people of Judah heard what Holofernes, the commander of King Nebuchadnezzar’s [read Sennacherib’s] armies, had done to the other nations. They heard how he had looted and destroyed all their temples, and they were terrified of him and afraid of what he might do to Jerusalem and to the Temple of the Lord their God. They had only recently returned home to Judah from [Assyrian] exile and had just rededicated the Temple and its utensils and its altar after they had been defiled. So they sent a warning to the whole region of Samaria and to the towns of Kona, Beth Horon, Belmain, Jericho, Choba, and Aesora, and to Salem Valley. They immediately occupied the mountaintops, fortified the villages on the mountains, and stored up food in preparation for war. It was fortunate that they had recently harvested their fields.
The High Priest Joakim, who was in Jerusalem at that time, wrote to the people in the towns of Bethulia and Betomesthaim, which face Jezreel Valley near Dothan. He ordered them to occupy the mountain passes which led into the land of Judah, where it would be easy to withstand an attack, since the approach was only wide enough for two people at a time to pass. The Israelites carried out the orders given to them by the High Priest Joakim and the Council which met in Jerusalem.
And in Judith 15:8-13:
The High Priest Joakim and the Council of Israel came from Jerusalem to see for themselves what great things the Lord had done for his people and to meet Judith and congratulate her. When they arrived, they all praised her, ‘You are Jerusalem’s crowning glory, the heroine of Israel, the pride and joy of our people! You have won this great victory for Israel by yourself. God, the Almighty, is pleased with what you have done. May he bless you as long as you live’.
All the people responded, Amen.
It took the people thirty days to finish looting the camp of the Assyrians. Judith was given Holofernes’ tent, all his silver, his bowls, his couches, and all his furniture. She took them and loaded as much as she could on her mule; then she brought her wagons and loaded them too. All the Israelite women came to see her; they sang her praises and danced in her honor. On this joyful occasion Judith and the other women waved ivy-covered branches and wore wreaths of olive leaves on their heads. Judith took her place at the head of the procession to lead the women as they danced. All the men of Israel followed, wearing wreaths of flowers on their heads, carrying their weapons, and singing songs of praise.